Esports has exploded in popularity over the past year and we expect there to be more than 250 million esports fans in China alone by the end of this year. This year at ChinaJoy our China Country Director, Mr. Zeng Xiaofeng, give his presentation on ‘Why Esports is the Future of Gaming’ the afternoon of August 4th in the Kerry Hotel. During the presentation he’ll take a look back at some of the biggest esports stories of the past year which we’ve outlined below:

International Olympic Committee to host esports forum – July 2018

The International Olympic Committee and the Global Association of International Sports Federations held an esports forum on July 21st, 2018 in Switzerland. Representiatives from Intel, Riot Games, Blizzard and Twitch attended the event where the possibility of esports being added to the Olympic Games was discussed. We noted above that esports has already been added to the Asian games and we believe this is a strong indicator that it will also become a sport at the Olympic Games in the future.

Overwatch league comes to ESPN – July 2018

The Overwatch league was fully developed by Blizzard at the end of 2016 and the first season took place during the first half of this year with a total prize pool of $3.5 million available. A new multiyear deal will see the Overwatch League matches broadcast on ESPN and Disney XD cable channels. NetEase was the first China based company to operate a team in the Overwatch League. NetEase and Blizzard formed a joint venture to operate games like World of Warcraft and Overwatch in China.

DOTA 2 International prize pool surpasses $20m – July 2018

The DOTA 2 International 8, which is run by Valve, now has a prize pool of over $20 million. The International takes place between August 15th and 25th in Vancouver this year. The first International tournament took place in 2011 and had a prize pool of $1.6 million. In 2017 the prize pool reached $24 million, the biggest in esports history. In 2016 it was China based Wings Gaming that won the event 3-1 and took over $9 million in prize money.

Epic Games invests in Fortnite Esports – May 2018

With more than 120 million players in the game’s first year, Fortnite has become one of the most popular games in the world thanks to its battle royale mode. Epic is now looking to grow the game even further by providing $100 million to fund prize pools across various Fortnite esports tournaments. Tencent, who will publish the game in China, is also investing $15 million for the games launch in China and to support esports initiatives.

Esports coming to the Asian Games 2018 – May 2018

The Asian Esports Federation has confirmed that esports will be featured at this year’s Asian Games in Jakarta, Indonesia. This marks the first time that esports has been featured at an Olympic event as a demonstration sport. Esports is planned to become a medal sport at the 2022 Asian games. Alibaba worked with the Olympic council of Asia to add esports to this event and games such as League of Legends, Hearthstone and Pro Evolution Soccer will be on display.

Huya IPO demonstrates the growth of game livestreaming – May 2018

Huya, a leading games livestreaming platform in China, went public on May 11th, raising $180m during its IPO on the NYSE. The rise of live streaming, esports, mobile gaming and popular personalities allowed Huya to spin off from its parent company. With a recent investment from Tencent, Huya is uniquely positioned to benefit from the growing esports industry. Douyu, another games live streaming platform, noted that it is looking to go public too after seeing success for the same reasons.

PUBG to kick offs first major esports tournament – April 2018

PUBG was the first game to put battle royale on the map and has amassed 50 million paid sales and a total of 400 million players across all platforms including the free to play mobile version. The PUBG Global invitational, which takes place in Berlin this summer, will see 20 professional teams compete for a $2 million prize pool. Tencent is also set to publish PUBG in China later this year, with the game currently going through the approval process.

Tencent restructures the King Pro League – March 2018

Mobile esports has seen rapid growth over the past two years, especially in China where the popularity of Tencent’s Honor of Kings led to the creation of a professional esports league in 2016. Tencent will be following in the footsteps of Riot Games and franchising its King Pro League (KPL) which means the league will comprise of 12 city-based teams competing with each other. Tencent plans to grow the esports scene for the game by launching an international tournament this year.

Tencent has a 5-year esports plan – June 2017

The world’s largest games company revealed its 5-year esports plan last year and one year later we now have a good idea of where Tencent is spending this money. Tencent committed RMB 100 billion to growing the esports scene in China with new leagues, tournaments, associations and esports themed industrial parks. Esports is a key driver behind Tencent’s hit titles such as League of Legends and Honor of Kings.

Riot Games restructures League of Legends esports – June 2017

Riot Games has made a number of moves last year to franchise its esports leagues in both North America and Europe. The move shift allows the LCS to become more like traditional sports leagues with an established list of teams. Each team is required to invest $10 million to obtain a slot in the franchise and in return the team gets long term security, allowing for further investment in the space.